Nalanda- The Most Ancient Treasure Of India In Respect To Education, History, Culture And Religion
Bihar has always been another treasure of our country. With times there may be a deterioration of the place due to some political and social issues but yes, if you want to look back towards our treasure of history, Nalanda will come up to be a gem place. Nalanda has been the first global seat of learning. This was the oldest university and eminent center of learning that existed in the ancient age before Oxford or Cambridge. This place got its reference even in the writing of Huan Tsang and I- Tsing. Nalanda is located in Southeast direction of Patna and is about 95 kilometers away from Patna near Bihar Sharif. Nalanda was the pride of Magadha (currently known as Bihar) which still infuses a feeling of nostalgia among us.
Nalanda word is basically a Sanskrit word which comes from three words- Na+alam+Daa that mean “no stop for giving out knowledge”. It was Mahavihara which had a lot of nalas- which means lotus stalks. That is why Lotus symbolizes knowledge.
It is believed that Gupta Dynasty founded the university. Shakraditya is accredited for the foundation of the University. Nalanda University was established probably during the reign of Kumara Gupta. In 1193, Nalanda University was completely destroyed by Turkish Army which was led by Bakhtiar Khilji of Mamluk Dynasty.
In 1915 during an excavation done by Archeological Survey of India, remains of Nalanda University were found out. Nalanda University rather Nalanda the place has its great importance in Buddhism and Jainism. It is said that Mahavira had spent near about fourteen rainy seasons in Nalanda and Gautama Buddha used to deliver speeches to his disciples at Nalanda.
Do you Know?
Harshavardhana, Dharmapala, Vasubandhu, Suvishnu, Dharmakirti, Asanga, Shantarakhsita, Aryadeva, Nagarjuna, Padmasambhava, Hwui Li, and Xuanzang were some notable scholars who passed of Nalanda University.
Click here to know the historical and notable places to visit in Nalanda
Now let’s take a tour around the Nalanda:
Nalanda University is a world heritage site by UNESCO and Archeology. It was known as Mahviahara during that time. This place was considered as Buddhist Monastery. In Chinese and Tibetan scriptures you can find reference to the place as an advanced place of Vedic literature. You can even find a detailed description of the place in Huen Tsang’s scriptures which he wrote while he visited the place in the 7th century. The subjects that were taught in Nalanda University were- Buddhism, Mathematics, Literature, Medicines, and Vedas. Huen Tsang stayed for two years while he was traveling through India during 630 to 643 E, where he received the name ‘Mokshadeva.’
Initially, as per the description of Huen Tsang the place opened with one huge gate and had eight halls and the building was made up of bricks. There were richly adorned towers with pointed tops. The building was huge and it seemed to reach up to the clouds.
The current scenario is bit different. Currently, the place after excavation of 14 hectors is now visible. The building remains is made up of red bricks. The place is surrounded by beautiful garden. Towards the east, you can find the eleven monasteries. The six temples are situated in west direction. You need to definitely visit the Nalanda Archaeological museum which has a number of beautiful Hindu and Buddhist sculptures. You need to also visit the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara and the Huien Tsang Memorial Hall. The amazing fact of the place is, though it was attacked thrice by the invaders; Huns, Goudas and Bhaktiyar Khilji still Nalanda University reopened after 800 years. Isn’t it amazing? Now that’s the power of our country.
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Nalanda Unversity was destroyed thrice but was rebuilt only twice in past. The first attack was done by Huns under Mihirakula during 455-467 AD. During this age, Skand’s successor revived it. The second attack was done by Gaudas during the reign of Harshavardhana within 606 – 648 AD but Harshavardhana restored it. The third attack was done by Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1193. This time Buddhist as a religion had a major setback.
The Great Stupa
Nalanda takes an important place when it comes to Buddhism. This place always has been a place of culture and study for Buddhist monks. The monasteries and stupas say it all. This stupa was built by Ashoka in honor of Sariputra during the 3rd century. The structure currently looks like a pyramid with steps and beautiful sculptures on it.
Nalanda has been an important place even for Jainism. And Pawapuri displays it. Pawapuri is known as the sinless town as Lord Mahavira was cremated here. The place is also known as Apapuri. The place has a beautiful marble temple and lotus pond. Rajgiri dance festival and Chaat is celebrated here with great grandeur. It is said the pond is created due to the collection of holy ashes by people, which made the upper layer of soil eroded. Jal madir is a stunning temple which is built in the middle of the lotus pond. Gaon Mandir is another remarkable place, it is said that this was the place where Lord Mahavira took his last breath. You can also visit Samosaran Temple where Lord Mahavira visited delivered his preaches. You must also visit Shri Gunayaji Teerth Temple which is situated 20 km away from Pawapuri.
Nav Nalanda Mahavihara
If you want to see our ancient tradition, you need to definitely visit this place. Nav Nalanda Mahavihara. The place was built by British in the year 1951 and is now considered as the modern center of Budhhism teaching Pali and Buddhism.
Hiuen Tsang Memorial Hall
Hiuen Tsang is a memorable figure in our History and especially in Buddhism. Here you can find the journey depiction of the Chinese Scholar Huen Tsang and you can find his scriptures which are preserved here.
In India, there are few places where you can find deity of Sun God. Nalanda is one of those places. In this temple, you can find an attractive deity of five feet tall Goddess Parvati. This temple also has other Hindu Gods.
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When Bakhtiyar Khilji got severely ill, he was suggested to get treated by Rahul Sri Bhadra who was the principal of Nalanda University. But Khilji did not agree out of his pride on Islam but later when his condition got worse he had to get cured of him, but he denied to take any Ayurvedic medicine. Bhadra suggested him to read few pages of Koran which later healed him. This proved that an India Hindu scholar knew far more than Khiji’s doctors. Understanding the fact Khilji ordered his army to destroy the library in Nalanda University and set it on fire. The library was so huge and was flooded with manuscripts that it took 3 months to get destroyed. It is said that there were more than 9 million of books.
Kundalpur is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Mahavira the 24th Tirthankaras. This place is also considered to be the birthplace of Lord Mahavira’s first disciple Gautam Swamiji. The place is extremely holy for Jainis. The place has a grand temple with a 4.5 feet tall idol of Mahavira Padmasana. The place also has 72 idols of Tirthankaras including 24 of past, present, and future. This serene is known as Trikal Chaubeesi Jinmandir.
Best Time to visit
The best time to visit Nalanda is from October to December when the weather is pleasant and cold.
Food to try
Once you visit the place do not forget to try out authentic food of Bihar which is just awesome. Try out Litti chokha, Aalu Kachaalu, Sattu-Pani, Peda, Dahi Choora, Ghughni Choora, Jhaal Moodhi, Kalakand, Chamcham.
How to reach?
Nalanda is well connected by roads from Patna. You can reach Patna by air and from their, you can hire bus or taxi. The nearest railway station is Bakhtiyarpur.
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